If your reading group or book club is reading
I'm Sorry You Feel That Way, drop me an email at


I'd be happy to talk to you. If you're within a reasonable driving distance from southern Minnesota, I can be there in person; if not, I am a chatty Cathy on the telephone.

Discussion Questions for I'm Sorry You Feel That Way:

1) How does the title hold the collection of essays/memoir together? Can it be applied to each essay to reveal something about Joseph's character? Any other possible interpretations for how the title functions?

2) Consider the book's epigraph: "A man is a God in ruins.” How does that relate to the men (boys and a dog) within? Are each of them a "God ruined?" In what way? if not, how do you interpret the meaning of this epigraph?

3) There’s a common belief that daughters seek out men like their fathers. Do you see any correlation between the men in Ms. Joseph's life and her relationship with her father detailed in “Tongue Twisted, Tongue Tied”? What are they?

4) How would you characterize the ending of "Love in the Age of Ick?" Embarrassed? Regretful? Wistful? Something else?

5) Do you see any similarities between the men Joseph finds herself attracted to? What are they?

6) In “What's (Not) Simple,” Karl's name (either is full name or just his first name) appears over 100 times. Why would Joseph use the name so much? What does it reveal about how she feels about Karl and/or her relationship to Karl?

7) How would you characterize the relationship between Joseph and Bobby the dog? Are there similarities between this relationship and others with male humans that she develops?

8) In “Ten Million, At Least,” Joseph writes, “It’s easy to make me love you: pretty much all you have to do is be nice. Al was nice to me, so I was nice to him. Because we were nice to each other, I figured it must be love even if he didn’t know it yet.” Do you think love really is as simple as just being nice to each other? Or is it more complicated than that?

9) In "The Boy, Again," Joseph says her years of mothering her son can be summed up in three phrases: "I adore you"; "What the hell do you want from me now?"; and "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" What do each of those suggest about parenthood? What do all of them together suggest about Joseph's attitude toward raising a child?

10) Who was your favorite character? Why?